Have a drink – or two


Thanks to Deborah McLean for the reminder about drinking water and how important is in keeping us all in good health. This is something some of us either forget about or didn’t know about in the first place. As country kids in rural Maine, most of my peers have drunk water from a stream, a brook and dippers that hung by a little “lip” in a pail of wonderful spring water. Seldom did our refrigerators have gallons of orange juice and never soft drinks. We drank milk or water – mostly water.

Personally, if I don’t drink enough water, I feel tired, unwell and know immediately what is wrong and that it will take me a half day to get my spunk back.

In a recent article by Deb McLean, at Maineseniorguide.com, she refers to the Mayo Clinic findings, and according to them, every system in your body depends on water. For example, water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues.

Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. There’s plenty of medical research that indicates even mild dehydration can affect cognitive functioning and memory.

My lab tech who regularly tests my blood advised me long ago to drink plenty of fluid prior – makes the whole process much easier – and it really works, at least for me.

Mayo suggests that about 13 cups of liquid a day for men and nine for women is a healthy average, depending on the body functions and activity of the individual. That may sound like a tremendous amount – but think of it as a fluid – includes coffee, tea or juice when you are counting up your total requirement. And have a cup of broth-based soup and call that a cup of fluid toward your goal.

Also, don’t think that drinking so much water will keep you in the bathroom. Water helps dilute and carry the waste products. If you’re not drinking enough, you actually may have more trips to the bathroom, because the concentrated urine is a bladder irritant.

Drink water before meals and eat less? Many weight loss gurus insist that drinking water about a half hour before meals can help you eat less. One National Institute of Healthy study showed that dieters who drank 500 ml of water (a little more than two cups) before meals lost 44 percent more weight over a period of 12 weeks, compared to those who didn’t. Combining a little extra water with a healthy diet seems like an easy way to lose weight.

Dehydration is one of the causes of Charlie horses and leg cramps at night, as well. If your muscles and connective tissues are at least 60 percent water (and the joints even more) than it stands to reason that every cup you drink is a natural lubricant.

How much water should you drink? Probably as much as you can. Start small. Make it a personal challenge to measure out 8 cups and see if you can drink it in a day. Perhaps as tea in the morning? In a smoothie?

Thanks to Deb McLean for all her good articles and to the Mayo Clinic for their research – and thank goodness we are in Maine, where the water is so good, even out of a dipper.

Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at kso48@aol.com, or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.